We have all sinned. Every one of us is guilty of breaking God’s laws—more than once (Romans 3:23). It all started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve committed the first sin of disobedience (Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12). Sin entered the world and from then on everyone was born with a sinful nature. The close relationship with humanity that God first designed came to a screeching halt.
But man’s first sin in the Garden of Eden did not deter God. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty of death for our sins, making way for us to receive forgiveness for past and future wrongdoing (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 2:2). It doesn’t give us the license to do sin whenever we please, but makes a way to always keep our slate clean before Him.
Unfortunately, the devil knows our weaknesses. He’s the one who created those weaknesses. In his injustice and wickedness, He tempts us daily to ignore the love of God and follow his lead. Then when we do sin, He piles condemnation on us. He tells us that we’re worthless nobodies and that God could never forgive us (Revelation 12:10). He lies, saying that God’s love has run out and He doesn’t want anything to do with us. As a result, when we have a need, we are too timid to go before God and ask Him for it. That timidity denies our faith and keeps us distant from God. It’s a vicious devil-designed plot to keep us from God’s throne.
The truth is, God’s love for us never runs out. He sent Jesus while we were still sinners, proof that it’s not our perfect behavior that earns His love (Romans 5:8). He is love and never changes (1 John 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:8). If there’s anything that changes, it’s our behavior and the decisions we make in relation with Him. He is always drawing us to Himself, urging us through the Holy Spirit to turn from our sins and receive His forgiveness. Receiving that forgiveness is as easy as confessing and repenting.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action] (1 John 1:9, AMPC).
The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance (2 Peter 3:9, AMPC).
To confess means to admit that we have done wrong. To repent means to turn around and go in the opposite direction from where we came. When we sin, God calls us to go to Him and verbally admit that we’ve disobeyed Him. Then, as proof of our change of heart, we must turn away from that sin and live holy. When we both confess and repent, God’s justice kicks in.
Logically, God, in His justice, could punish us severely for what we’ve done wrong. We’ve earned it. But His justice isn’t based on past law or human assumption. It’s based the legal act of Jesus’ death on the cross. The moment we confess our sins and repent, Jesus stands before God and intercedes for us. He reminds God the Father of the substitutionary price He paid through His death so we could be forgiven.
My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action]. And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2, AMPC).
We could never be good enough to earn this forgiveness. We must receive it by faith in God’s grace—His favor empowerment extended toward us (Ephesians 2:8). That faith is confidence in God‘s faithfulness and His justice. His faithfulness, or trustworthiness, is His good nature. His justice, or His equitable character, is how He legally operates. We can have confidence in His faithfulness to act in justice based on Jesus’ sacrifice instead of what we have earned. Without the two working together, we would forever be separated from Him!
His grace doesn’t stop there. Because He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, He is also faithful and just to answer our prayers. Under condemnation from the devil, we may not have had the confidence to ask Him for anything while living in sin. But when we repent, our conscience becomes clear once again. We can have confidence that if He’s faithful and just to forgive our sins, He’ll be faithful and just to answer our prayers. His nature and method of operation are always the same (Hebrews 13:8). That’s the goodness of His faithfulness and justice!
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15).